School of Mines Unveils First-Ever Geothermic Fuel Cell

October 27, 2014 By Karen Henry

geothermic-energy-manageThe Colorado School of Mines Colorado Fuel Cell Center has unveiled IEP Technology’s Geothermic Fuel Cell (GFC). This first-ever GFC will enable production of unconventional hydrocarbons, such as oil shale, in an economic and environmentally sustainable way, while producing clean, baseload electricity.

The technology was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, TOTAL Petroleum, Delphi Automotive and the Colorado Fuel Cell Center at Colorado School of Mines.

Capital and operating costs of GFC technology are dramatically lower than other technologies when including revenues from surplus power and gases generated in the process. Previous technologies have either used mining/surface production facilities or large amounts of traditional utility-supplied electricity for in-situ technologies, both of which have significant impacts to the environment.

The GFC technology will capture and reuse its own gases produced in the process to become self fueling after startup, can achieve net zero air emissions, and can actually produce water during its operation thus avoiding impact to water needs in arid parts of the state.

IEP Technology’s GFCs use solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology from Delphi. GFCs use the heat generated by the fuel cells as the “product,” leaving the clean baseload energy from the fuel cells available to be sold back to the grid.

IEP Technology said it plans to complete in-situ testing this year to monitor the heat and electrical output of the GFCs. A full-scale GFC field test at a Northwest Colorado oil shale resources site is slated for 2015. Commercialization is expected to follow application validation.

DOE awarded the Colorado School of Mines $1.5 million in 2013 to develop advanced hybrid membranes for fuel cells that are simpler, more affordable and able to operate at higher temperatures.


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